How to keep pets safe in the event of a fire. How can I save my pets if my house is on fire? What to do if you are a pet owner and your home catches on fire. Fire prevention tips for pet owners. Pet owners are always told not to risk their own lives to save their pet, but what are they suppose to do? How to keep your pets safe from house fires.
March is Fire Prevention Month.
Every pet owner has the same fear, “How will I save my pets if my house is on fire?”. We are always told never to go into a burning building to save a pet, nor to stay in our home to try to find our pet. The last thing we want to do is to leave our pet inside a burning building, but what else can we do?
The best safety feature is to prevent fires in the first place. While there are many ways of doing this, I will only list those that involve pets.
If you burn candles they must be placed where pets cannot knock them over or knock them off of where ever you have them. A cat might swat a tealight off the counter, a dog's wagging tail could knock a candle off the table, or even worse; catch on fire!
If you have pets that require heat lamps (for example chicks), these lamps must be properly secured and hung at the correct height.
If you have pets that require electrical units, pumps, filters, heating, you must be sure that these are plugged in safely and not overloading a breaker.
Rabbits, if allowed loose in the house, often chew cords, which may leave wires exposed and put your home at risk for an electrical fire (not to mention your bunny would be at risk of electrocution. Make sure there are no cords hanging near any cages – this includes bird cages too.
Planning Before a Fire
There are some things you can do to help keep your pets safe in the event of a fire. Many pet supply stores, or animals shelters, have small signs you can put on your door that tell fire fighters that you have pets inside. You can indicate how many pets you have, and should keep this updated.
Firefighters will try to save pets if they can, but realize that your pet will be terrified of the firefighter.
A well trained, obedient, and socialized, dog will be easier to retrieve from a burning building than one that has been babied and not socialized. In other words, your dog should be trained to come when called, no matter who calls it.
If you have neighbors you trust, and ones that are often home when you are not, they should know how many pets you have, and where you keep them (for caged pets), as such if there is a fire, they can say “They have a pet rabbit whose cage is in the basement on the right.”.
Note – there is no guarantee a firefighter will be in position to save your pets, they will only do so if their lives are not at risk.
In the Event of a Fire
If you are home and a fire breaks out you should not stick around to save your pets, no matter how horrible this is. If your pet is with you, for sure grab it and get out. It will be terrified so make sure it is safe once out of your house – some cats or dogs may be confused and might try to run back in doors.
If you have a caged pets you might be able to grab one, but very often they, and animals kept in aquariums, will have to be left inside. The best thing to do is shut the door to the room they are in, and quickly stuff something (blanket, shirt) against the bottom of the door to prevent smoke from entering the room. In some cases doing this will also prevent the fire from entering the room.
Get out and call the fire department at once.
Note that if your pet is rescued by a firefighter it should be taken to a veterinarian as it may have suffered smoke inhalation. You will want to send a note to the fire station later, thanking them.
Note: Some firefighters have oxygen masks for pets, but not all do. These can be lifesaving, you can talk to your local fire department, and even donate money, to help them get oxygen masks for pets.